By LeAnn R. Ralph
GLENWOOD CITY — Although the sky was gray, the rain held off for the Glenhaven Long Term Care and Rehabilitation grand opening and 55th anniversary celebration Friday afternoon.
While it is difficult to estimate the number of people who attended the event, tables set up inside and outside were filled with family members, community members and former community members.
The Glen Hills Lions Club served up their world famous — or at least locally world famous — barbecued chicken at the supper put on by Glenhaven to honor the event.
The grand opening and 55th anniversary celebration featured a variety of speakers.
“We truly have been blessed by everyone around us. The residents and their families. The staff. The volunteers. The board of directors,” said David Prissel, Glenhaven administrator.
“This project didn’t go quite as planned. January of 2014 brought a catastrophic (event) that set us back. Many small companies might not have pulled out of it. Due to the community’s commitment and staff dedication, we have a beautiful new home,” he said.
“Many people and companies were involved in this project. Today we are here to celebrate their achievement and celebrate the 55 years of service Glenhaven has brought to Glenwood City, Boyceville, Emerald, Wilson, Connorsville, Forest, and other smaller surrounding communities that don’t have a facility to care for their seniors,” Prissel said.
John McCutchin serves as the president of the Glenhaven Board of Directors.
“It is appropriate that we celebrate the 55th anniversary of Glenhaven and the grand opening of the new Glenhaven Long Term Care and Rehabilitation facility at the same time. The 55 years of service depicts Glenhaven’s ongoing commitment to provide quality care to our friends, while the opening of the new building shows the continuing support that the community has for Glenhaven,” he said.
The first formal meeting to discuss the need for a “home for older people” was in May of 1957, and the first resident moved into Glenhaven in February of 1960. The money to build the facility was raised locally, McCutchin noted.
“In the 1980s, the need was seen for an addition to the building. A private room, a solarium for meetings and family get-togethers, office spaces, a large living room, and an area for physical therapy. Also we needed a place for special entertainment, which is very, very important. Glenhaven was originally intended ‘to care for those who found that running their own home was too much of a chore.’ It evolved into a facility for those who found that they couldn’t care for themselves in their own homes anymore. This change was due, in part, to state regulations. The nursing home now has to prove that a resident needs to be in a nursing home,” he said.
“I have lost track of time, but I would guess it was 15 to 20 years ago that the board of directors agreed that the building of a group of apartments under the title of assisted living was needed for those who couldn’t easily stay in their own homes anymore but didn’t qualify for the nursing home,” McCutchin said.
“When we got the price tag on this, we found that the building was going to cost us $2 to $3 million, and it was recognized that this was more than saving pennies and soup and salad luncheons could raise. What to do?” he said.
“Finally a government-assisted plan became available that would allow large corporations to donate money to the project and in return get tax credits that they could deduct from their yearly taxes. Glenhaven still needed to raise money from the community, but now only a small percentage of the overall project. The community only had to raise about ten percent. With this, the board voted to proceed with the Havenwood Assisted Living project, which opened its doors in 2008,” McCutchin said.
After Havenwood had been built, the board of directors and nursing home administration realized there had been a change in the wants and needs of residents and their families. They were requesting private rooms with less of an institutional feel and a more home-like atmosphere, McCutchin said.
“Great need. Great plan. But how to fund it? In 1960, a postage stamp was 4 cents, a gallon of gasoline 31 cents, and a gallon of milk 49 cents, and a new house about $16,000. Prices today are about ten times that much. Median income during that time rose from about $5,600 to $52,000. That’s the median income for a family. That’s almost a ten-fold increase. The cost of the proposed new nursing was over, not ten times the cost of the first one, but 50 times the cost of the first nursing home,” he said.
The combination of different resident and family needs, more stringent government regulations, and the fact that the original Glenhaven was a basic building that covered basic needs but not much beyond that all worked together to increase the cost of a new facility, McCutchin said.
The original Glenhaven “met the needs at that time, but it didn’t go far beyond that. And I think now we’ve gone beyond that quite well,” he said.
“The first building did not have a separate physical therapy area. The new building at Glenhaven has an excellent physical therapy area with professional therapists who treat patients on site. Rehabilitation to ready our neighbors to return home following hip and knee replacement and recovering from stroke or heart attack. It is important that the patient be fully recovered before going home and possibly having another accident which puts them into the hospital again. So with good occupational rehab and physical therapy, these patients go home much better,” McCutchin said.
The new facility also will have a cafe, and when enough funds are raised, a daycare center.
“A daycare will brighten the building and put a twinkle in the eyes of our old folks. It is just amazing what good medicine the little ones are to our residents,” McCutchin said.
The last phase of construction, the remodel of the original building into a 16-unit community-based residential facility (CBRF), is currently in the process of being completed.
“This will accommodate those who need more care than can be provided in assisted living, but do not yet need to (be) in the nursing home,” McCutchin said.
“How was this financially feasible? Well, the planets all came into alignment for us. The state of Wisconsin gave incentive money available to nursing homes like ours to help offset the cost of remodeling. Many, many facilities applied for this type of income but Glenhaven was one of very few that was awarded that,” he said.
“Secondly, we affiliated with Royal Construction, which is our agent to design and build a new facility. They helped in many ways to reduce the cost of construction. The biggest piece of the puzzle was the financial support from AgStar and USDA Rural Development,” McCutchin said.
“We applied for and received low-interest loans to cover about 90 percent of the cost. The final piece of the puzzle will be the money that Glenhaven raises in fund-raising campaign. Our goal is at least $700,000. Again that put us at about ten percent of the total cost. We have already raised $500,000 due to the generosity of the community,” he said.
Joan Bartz is one of the co-chairs for Glenhaven’s fund-raising committee.
“I wasn’t sure this day was going to come. Not only did they do a great job of building this once, but twice. We’re so thankful for the community and their support. We’re so thankful for the fire department and all of the surrounding fire departments that were here on that day when we had that awful, awful news. But I want to say a thank you to the entire community. The support we had from everyone has been just phenomenal,” Bartz said.
The task of raising $700,000 seemed almost impossible at first, she said.
“I think we were all a little overwhelmed. How were we going to do that? We had some wonderful, wonderful support from folks that stepped up from the community and challenge grants, and the community that followed in behind that. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Bartz said.
“Of that $700,000 we were tasked to raise, we still have about $200,000 left. You will notice that the daycare is not done, and we want to have that be part of it. That will be just a huge part of this facility, having the residents be able to look out and having the kids playing on the playground and being part of this community with our elderly residents. The multi-generational is a huge part of that,” she said.
Fund raising will continue with a variety of initiatives, including memorial bricks that are available for $100 each, Bartz noted.
“You can also make a donation and have a naming opportunity for several things that have not yet been named. We welcome you to make a continued donation. Again thank you so much for all of your efforts,” she said.
Tim Olson of Royal Construction commended the Glenhaven Board of Directors for their vision.
“Royal Construction was grateful to be selected to be your design build partner in March of 2012. Back then, when we went to the first meeting with the board, I want to congratulate them on their vision. You were talking about this for five to ten years before we showed up on the scene,” Olson said.
“USDA and AgStar have been part of doing these things in cities like Glenwood City. It worked very, very well. We went through a long process with them. It took about a year to get the financing approved, but once we did get it approved, things went pretty quickly from that point,” he said.
“One person who has not been mentioned yet is Gaius Nelson, who is with the Nelson-Tremain Partnership. They actually were the architect for this facility. Gaius is out of the Twin Cities, but he is one of the best designers for adult health care facilities. He has been doing this for about 30 years. He is very well known in the industry for doing this type of facility. It’s not an easy process getting all of these ideas down on paper and to get the visions of the board, the staff,” Olson said.
“One thing we had difficulty with was the slope. How do we use this hill to our advantage? It took a long time to figure that out. The initial plan was two separate buildings. But then the kitchen was going to have to deliver food, and in the winter, that doesn’t work too well in Wisconsin. We ended up with a good design, and everybody did well, I think, to make that happen,” he said.
“The other thing is when we started this facility, we knew we had an uphill battle. However, at the time we started, we had no idea we were going to go over the edge of a cliff. January 14, 2014. Sometimes things happen in life that we can’t really explain and that challenge us. When I look back at January 14, I thank God that the prevailing wind wasn’t westerly that day. It was easterly. I can’t imagine. It was bad enough. But if we would have had to relocate residents, staff and Heaven forbid. There was no loss of life. The building can be replaced. I am grateful nobody got hurt,” Olson said.
Mike Mai, the senior accountant with Bauman Associates, pointed out that it was past successful financial operations for Glenhaven that made a new facility possible.
“This project is not just about today. It really is about the past history that the facility has had as well. In order to have a project like this, you need to have successful operations in the past, which allows you to have a track record, which allows you obtain financing to do something like that,” he said.
“We really need to thank the current board and past board members and current management for all the work they did to allow the facility to get to where it is today. Because financially, that needed to be in place first,” Mai said.
State Senator Sheila Harsdorf noted that long-term care facilities in small towns are vitally important.
“I got a quick tour, from the childcare facility, to the cafe, to the rooftop garden where you’re going to be able to see baseball games. It’s so well thought out. What a beautiful place for people to live. It truly is a home,” Senator Harsdorf said.
“In a time when we get to the point where we need full-time care, it’s so important to have it in our communities,” she said.
“I remember a time a few years ago, when a previous governor proposed reduced nursing home funding. I had a younger person come into my office who said, ‘You know what, Sheila. If you have to shut down a few nursing homes, so be it.’ I thought to myself – come a time when any of us need longterm care, to ask someone to move away from the community they’ve lived in, that they’ve got friends and family in, that is just not acceptable,” Senator Harsdorf said.
“Thank goodness we have a beautiful facility like this in Glenwood City,” she said.
In addition to John McCutchin serving as the president of the Glenhaven Board of Directors, David Bartz serves as the vice-president, Shawn DeWitt serves as the treasurer, and LaVon Cassellius serves as the secretary.
Lesley Nelson, Kristi Tellijohn, Jim Krave, and Bob Darwin also serve as members on the board of directors, while one board position remains open.